Originally created 11/22/04

Eagles get New Hampshire



STATESBORO, Ga. - The unknown was greeted with silence by Georgia Southern's football team Sunday afternoon.

Ten minutes into ESPNews' programming of the Division I-AA playoff pairings, the No. 4 seeded Eagles learned they would meet New Hampshire on Saturday at Paulson Stadium in the first round of the 16-team tournament.

They also learned the game would be televised nationally at 6 p.m. by ESPN2.

In past years, team highlights and the naming of an opponent drew at least a buzz. This time, there was no cheering. No high-fives.

As quietly as the players had filed into the Lupton Building at Paulson Stadium, they left just as quietly.

Some before the bracketing had been completed.

"We don't know a lot about New Hampshire, but I'm sure they're a good team or else they wouldn't be in the playoffs," senior slotback T.J. Anderson said.

The Eagles understand the road to an unprecedented seventh I-AA national championship is filled with pitfalls. Six of the top nine ranked teams are on Georgia Southern's side of the bracket.

The Wildcats (9-2) won the Atlantic 10 Conference's North Division by two games. They defeated defending champ Delaware in the season opener, then beat Division I-A Rutgers.

If Georgia Southern beats New Hampshire, it would stay at home to play the winner of Montana-Northwestern (La.) State.

Top-seeded Southern Illinois is a possible opponent for the Eagles on the road in the semifinals.

Georgia Southern would meet Southern Conference rival Furman only if both teams advance to the Dec. 17 finals.